Las Vegas casinos are bracing for a summer of strife after unionized workers voted to go out on strike on June 1.
On Tuesday, roughly 25k members of Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165 voted 99% in favor of a citywide strike as early as June 1, when 50k workers’ current union contracts with 34 Vegas casino resorts are set to expire.
Culinary Union secretary-treasurer Geoconda Argüello-Kline called a strike “a last resort,” saying workers want to reach a new agreement but are prepared to hit the picket lines if there’s no agreement by June 1.
The unions, which represent everything from bartenders to porters to guest room attendants, are seeking (among other things) greater workplace safety and protection from sexual harassment (even if Steve Wynn has left the building). The unions also want a “fair share” of the casinos’ “enormous anticipated cash flows and Trump tax windfalls.”
Apart from a desire for better pay and benefits, one of the workers’ main concern is being replaced by machines. Argüello-Kline said the union supported “innovations that improve jobs, but we oppose automation when it only destroys jobs. Our industry must innovate without losing the human touch.”
MGM Resorts operates 10 of the 34 Vegas properties facing a potential strike action, while Caesars Entertainment is next on the list with eight venues. Both companies issued statements following Tuesday’s vote insisting that they expect a resolution before any strike action.
Other potentially affected Strip properties include the SLS Las Vegas, the Westgate, the Tropicana, Treasure Island and the Stratosphere, while ten downtown Vegas properties are also set to be targeted.
In 2002, casinos faced a similar strike threat but a new deal was worked out the same day workers were scheduled to walk off the job. A 1984 strike was more acrimonious and more damaging, lasting over two months before labor peace was restored.
If there’s an upside to the strike threat, it’s that it doesn’t involve frontline gaming staff (croupiers, dealers), although gamblers will likely face a much longer wait than usual to get a drink delivered to their table.